Reproducing the Bernbachian culture and environment

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I started like all copywriters of my generation: by reading and rereading Bill Bernbach. Just like any young singer trying to emulate his idol.

It is amazing how up-to-date Bill's ideas are. But they are so hard to absorb that, even to this day, agencies find it difficult to strike a Bernbachian balance for themselves.

What he did was not mere entertainment for entertainment's sake, because his work did more than just stand out -- it sold. He was always seriously seeking the truth and merit of a product. But he also was fantastically playful. He attracted the consumers' attention, made them laugh or cry and never left their memories.

So much so that a great number of his ads remain fresh in our minds years later. More than masterpieces, they are part of a culture as well as of a creed. A creed I believe in.

It is not for nothing that some of the best agencies in the world have joined the DDB network.


Moreover, there are hundreds of other agencies not belonging to the DDB network that belong to the "Bill Bernbach network." These agencies were, and still are, influenced by him or one of his many famous disciples.

Surely, being Bernbach today is something totally different. You cannot read what Paul recommended to the Corinthians in biblical times and follow it verbatim. One must adapt it to our times.

Instead of reproducing his ads or his style, I try to reproduce the culture and the working environment that led to the creation of all that. I let this environment produce things that are up to Bill's standards, but have the feel of today.

This is why I believe Bill is alive here at DM9DDB. Alive in all his restless ways. Alive in the talented young person who strives in his or her work. Alive in those who do their work heedless of what survey results might say. Alive in the work that stirs up the city and becomes the talk of the town.

He is like Elvis. He lives. No need to find out where.

Bill Bernbach lives in all of us.

Nizan Guanaes is president of DM9DDB Brazil. He founded the agency is 1989 as DM9 and two years ago entered into a joint venture with what is now DDB Worldwide. DM9DDB this year was named Agency of the Year at the Cannes Advertising Festival for the second consecutive year.

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